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Author Topic: How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?  (Read 1634 times)

Daniel Migneault

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How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?
« on: 17/09/2012 16:51:49 »
Daniel Migneault  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Naked Scientists,

yesterday my daughter blew some soap bubbles in her younger sister's warm bath, and some bounced on the surface of the bathwater. They actually made contact with the water and bounced back in the air, like a birthday balloon. Why would they not pop or sit on the surface?

Daniel from Ottawa, Canada


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 17/09/2012 16:51:49 by _system »


 

Offline RD

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Re: How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?
« Reply #1 on: 17/09/2012 18:20:42 »
Not just bubbles, droplets bounce too ...
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?
« Reply #2 on: 17/09/2012 21:33:53 »
That's beautiful. I'm guessing that there's some kind of weak bonding going on in surface tension (not molecular bonding, but left-over forces tend to make molecules stick to others) and that you require a water molecule in the right place to be sticking out a bit to form a connection with the other water surface so that they start to merge. There would then be some kind of unzipping process where the join between the two surfaces spreads outwards from there. If all the molecules are sticking maximally to the ones around them in their own surface, they aren't going to stick to the other surface anything like as strongly, so the bubble or water drop can bounce off again.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Re: How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?
« Reply #3 on: 18/09/2012 12:51:30 »
I think a lot of it is that there's a thin layer of air between the bubble and the water surface that can't get out of the way in time, so the bubble distorts and then bounces off.

Also dust on the surface of the water can help, or depending on the details, can act as a bridge and cause the bubble to pop.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?
« Reply #4 on: 18/09/2012 20:54:57 »
Yes, that sounds more likely.
 

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Re: How can bubbles bounce on a water surface?
« Reply #4 on: 18/09/2012 20:54:57 »

 

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